I've posted the article below and encourage you to join in the discussion at the end and share your own views on this polarising subject.
Only a few days ago, I went to the local supermarket searching out some chilli peppers for the week ahead. At nearly 43 Australian dollars per kilo (£28), I chose to walk out empty-handed as, once again, prices in the food shops were spiralling out of control. A week before, banana prices had been rocketing.
The Mercer 2011 Quality of Living Survey, for example, which compares 221 cities based on 39 criteria, ranked Sydney as the 11th most liveable city in the world, whilst the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Liveability Report rated Sydney as the sixth most liveable city in the world. This contrasts starkly with another recent survey in The Guardian which named the UK as having the worst quality of life in Europe.
It’s therefore no great surprise that Brits continue to flock to Sydney in large numbers, but what I’m curious to know is whether the true financial cost of living a new life in the land down under is understood by these new immigrants and whether economics, rather than emotional reasons, might eventually drive them back home.
A spate of media commentary in recent weeks has focused on those Brits leaving Australia and returning to the homeland. Even the Mayor of London, addressing a lunch gathering of Australian business executives, mentioned the ping-pong Poms who are turning their backs on Australia because, despite the endless sunshine and chance to live by the coast, life is generally dull, they miss friends and family, lack any real sense of belonging, would prefer a less macho culture, and want more of the history commonly found in Europe.
|Photo credit: Robert van Dijk|
What the commentary doesn’t focus on is the exorbitant cost of living in Australia, particularly in Sydney, compared to prices in Britain, which immigration analysts suggest is the likely factor fuelling the trend for expats to return home.
So what are the options for expats like myself, struggling with the high cost of life in the sun but reluctant to give up this improved way of living for purely financial reasons? Do I move to another Australian city where the prices might be cheaper but the quality of life might also be less? Perhaps return to the Old Dart where the cost of living might be reduced but where I might give up so much more in the process? Or remain in Sydney where I can live close to the beach but pay dearly for it in the long run?
After almost nine years away, I still experience a profound pull back to the UK, to be near my family and friends, to witness the distinct change in seasons, enjoy polite conversation, green fields, and of course the quality TV. I suppose I could always head back for a short while, keeping my Australian citizenship as a back-up, leaving me free to return one day if, and when, the sky-high living costs subside.